There is something special about Herb Grace that just cannot be taught, say his colleagues who were pleased – and not surprised – when he won an Excellence in Education award last month.
Grace, a 1985 graduate of Medfield High School, has been teaching physical education at the for the last 19 years. He is also the basketball coach at , and has also worked with and influenced other Medfield children from pre-school up to high school.
“There is something really special about Herb that you just can't teach," said Susan Cowell, K-12 Wellness Department Head for Medfield Public Schools. "It is not a quality he picked up in a course, or by mentoring with one particular colleague. I am speaking of his incredible zest for life. He is among the most enthusiastic teachers I have ever seen, and he transfers his love for physical activity to his students. They have learned from him that taking good care of their body and treating others nicely are the most important things they can do.”
According to www.goldinfoundation.org, the Goldin Foundation for Excellence in Education was established in 1990, and recognizes and rewards educators who have made outstanding contributions in their classrooms, schools and communities. The Foundation provides six annual awards of $500 to each participating collaborative of school systems, to be used at the discretion of individuals selected.
Grace said he was “very taken aback and very surprised” when he won the award.
“It really was a big surprise and a great honor,” said Grace, who has been teaching elementary physical education for 22 years, the last 19 of them in the Medfield School District. “Honestly, I have just as much energy as I did 22 years ago. It’s a very enjoyable job and I love doing it. It’s never been really approached as work to me; it’s a great passion of mine, it’s something I like to do.”
Grace is well-respected by colleagues, who said he is modest and well-deserving of this recognition.
“I was thrilled to hear that he had been nominated, and when I heard him speak the night he received the award, I couldn't have been more proud,” said Cowell. “He was accurate when he referred to himself as a ‘pediatric fitness consultant.’ Parents in our community really value the fact that our district teaches to the whole child because they understand that a healthy child is a better learner and a happier person. … He has made a difference in the lives of so many and has never asked for or expected recognition.”
He is also well-loved by students, who bid high and bid often at the Memorial and Wheelock Schools’ Winter Carnival in hopes of winning the coveted “Pizza Party with Mr. Grace.”
He also does a great deal of charity work by conducting clinics and donating to breast cancer research, and by running the Boston Marathon to raise funds for Children’s Hospital.
“I try to give back as much as I can,” he said.
Grace said he is grateful to work in a district that values education.
“Medfield is a community that really values education. … I work in a great building," Grace said. "There are so many dedicated, committed teachers in the town of Medfield. We have great leadership, which funnels down to the teachers and to the kids – we have great kids."
And that’s why he teaches, said Grace, because of the kids.
“It’s not just teaching children the importance of exercise and staying physically fit; you’re also teaching them teamwork, sportsmanship, especially just working cooperatively with each other and putting forth your best effort,” he said. “Exercise should be an enjoyable experience for all ages and I try to convey to my students that it’s fun to live healthy, active lifestyles.”